Air Mail - Design Bureau

Air Mail

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

by Sarah Handelman

Tucked into the volcanic rock and cerulean rooftops of Santorini, a bookshop was struggling to pay its rent. Established in 2004, Atlantis Books has served as a literary haven for summer throngs of tourists. But when the recession struck and the high season died down, its owners deliberated how to keep their shop in the Aegean afloat. Their solution didn’t involve any eBooks.

 “I’ve always loved getting post, and I was probably being sentimental about that — how nothing good tends to show up in the mail,” says Will Brady, who helps run Atlantis. He had begun to dread opening the bills. “You don’t get nice handwritten things anymore. We wondered what we could do that would serve that purpose.”

Enter Paravion Press, a project started by the Greek bookshop’s co-owners, Brady and Craig Walzer, which pairs meta (and seemingly whimsical) notions to publish beautiful books for the otherwise digitally inclined. Paravion prints limited editions of stories using traditional typesetting and publishing methods. Books are printed in themed collections that come, conveniently, as tomes the size of postcards. As Paravion’s name implies, these thoughtfully curated collections are meant to be shared, by post.  

“I got drawn into this project of setting up the bookshop because of my affection for old, dusty books and for the situations that emerged from those kinds of places,” says Brady, who splits his time between London and Greece. “I really liked the idea of being able to share. Sharing a book is one thing, but something as a letter or postcard makes it ephemeral. And that aspect really appealed to me.”

Initially, the owners ran editions from an inkjet printer in the back of the bookshop and hand-stitched each copy. But as more eBook-toting visitors discovered the novel souvenir, Paravion began working with illustrators and using hand-printing methods to allow the much-loved literature to, well, stretch its wings.

In addition to an ongoing city series, Paravion has released a Valentine’s Day collection and is celebrating the holiday season with its edition of James Joyce’s The Dead. With commissioned illustrations by British artist William Bock, Paravion’s reissue breathes new life into the beloved and timeless Irish novella. The best part? There’s no wrapping necessary. Just sign, seal, and deliver. But remember to buy those stamps.  

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